Many exercisers know that they should stay hydrated when exercising, but three questions often asked are how much, when, and what? This article is meant to inform the reader of the current recommendations that address these very questions. In answer to the first two questions, here are some general guidelines to follow about fluid replacement from The American College of Sports Medicine and other such societies:
- Consume about 15-20 fl. oz. of water, 2 to 3 hours before exercise (to allow for absorption)
- Drink 8-10 fl. oz. of water 10-15 minutes before exercise (to ensure that you begin exercise in fluid balance)
- Consume between 8 and 10 fl. oz. every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise
- If exercising longer than 60 minutes, drink 8-10 fl. oz. of a sports drink (with 6-8% carbohydrate) every 15 – 30 minutes.
- Weigh yourself before and after exercise.
- For every 1lb lost, replace with 20-24 fl. oz. of water.
In answer to the third question, it can be both a sports drink and water. And this, of course, depends on the situation. If you are an athlete or individual who works out intensely for 60 minutes or more, then a sports drink with at least 6-8% carbohydrate, like Gatorade, can be beneficial to replenish lost fluid, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. It also can help improve performance during these longer bouts of intense exercise. For the average population however, a sports drink is not necessary because the stores of fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrates in one’s body are usually not completely spent during a standard workout. Therefore, consuming water before, during, and after exercise is all the average person needs to keep their body hydrated. For the athlete or avid exerciser, a sports drink to stay hydrated would be beneficial for intense exercise events lasting longer than an hour, as stated previously, but up to that point is not really necessary.
What are your favorite ways to stay hydrated? Do you have a preferred sports drink or do you just stick with water?